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Eric Greene – Repentance in the Formation of Chinese Buddhism

March 5, 2018 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Speaker: Eric Greene, Yale University

The ritual activity that in China was known as chanhui 懺悔 – often understood to mean “confession” or “repentance” – was without doubt one the central forms of Buddhist practice in medieval China. Despite this, scholars have often disagreed concerning, firstly, what “repentance” even means in the Chinese or Buddhist contexts, as well as the best way of understanding the relationship between Chinese Buddhist chanhui and its Indian Buddhist antecedents on the one hand, and pre-Buddhist Chinese religious ideologies on the other. In this talk I will attempt to offer some new ways of thinking about some of these questions that will help us understand how “repentance” came to serve within early medieval Chinese Buddhism (roughly 200-600 AD) not so much as one mode of Buddhist activity among many, but as a unifying frame for understanding the ultimate point of all forms of Buddhist practice whatsoever.

Eric Greene is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies. He received his B.A. in Mathematics from Berkeley in 1998, followed by his M.A. (Asian Studies) and Ph.D. (Buddhist Studies) in 2012. He specializes in the history of medieval Chinese Buddhism, particularly the emergence of Chinese forms of Buddhism from the interaction between Indian Buddhism and indigenous Chinese culture. Much of his recent research has focused on Buddhist meditation practices, including the history of the transmission on Indian meditation practices to China, the development of distinctly Chinese forms of Buddhist meditation, and Buddhist rituals of confession and atonement. He is currently writing a book on the uses of meditative visionary experience as evidence of sanctity within early Chinese Buddhism. In addition to these topics, he has published articles on the early history of Chan (Zen) Buddhism, Buddhist paintings from the Silk Roads, and the influence of modern psychological terminology on the Western interpretation of Buddhism. He is also presently working on a new project concerning the practice of translation – from Indian languages to Chinese – in early Chinese Buddhism. He teaches undergraduate classes on Buddhism in East Asia, Zen Buddhism, ritual in East Asian Buddhism, and mysticism and meditation in Buddhism and East Asia, and graduate seminars on Chinese Buddhist studies and Chinese Buddhist texts.

After completing his Ph.D. in 2012, Eric took a position at the University of Bristol (UK), where he taught East Asian Religions until coming to Yale in 2015.


March 5, 2018
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

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